Choosing Salt for Fermenting
There are often only three ingredients necessary in a vegetable ferments: vegetable, salt, and water (if making a brine). Because the ingredient list is so short, it is important that each ingredient be of the highest quality.
Obviously, finding fresh organic produce should be at the top of your priority list. Once this is accomplished you need to decide what type of salt you’re going to use.
Iodized Salt. This is the basic table salt that you can buy inexpensively from any grocery store. Most table salt is iodized meaning it has iodine added to it to increase its mineral count. The problem with this is that iodine tends to inhibit the beneficial bacteria in a cultured vegetable. Because of this we do not recommend using iodized salt for vegetable fermentation.
Kosher Salt. This is the second most popular salt found in most grocery stores. Kosher salt is not “kosher” itself, but is used to make meats kosher and is commonly called “koshering” salt. It has a larger crystal than the granular table salt and does not contain as many additives as table salt.
It does, however, sometimes contain sodium ferrocyanide to prevent caking, not something you might not want in your ferments.
Pickling Salt. This is much like iodized table salt, but without the iodine and anti-caking agents. For this reason it can be used for fermenting vegetables. It is highly refined though, so it may not be the optimal choice if you are looking for an unrefined, natural salt.
Sea Salt. Sea salts are derived from sea water. They can be refined or unrefined, but are generally safer than iodized salts. When looking for an unrefined sea salt look for specks of color: gray, black, pink, or red. These colors indicate that the minerals have not been refined out of the salt. Some natural salts may also have some moisture to them as they have not been fully dried or further refined after being extracted from the sea water. This is definitely a type of salt to explore using if you are fermenting vegetables.
Think of salt as you would any other food you would put on the table, or in your ferments. An ideal salt for fermenting is whole, unrefined, and full of natural vitamins and minerals.